After 11 years with the Melbourne Storm, including winning the 2012 NRL premiership, Ryan Hoffman jokes he had to move to New Zealand to achieve one of his biggest goals – playing at the MCG.
Over two highly successful stints with the Storm, Hoffman emerged as a crowd favourite in the southern capital he made his home before a big-money offer from the Warriors lured him away ahead of the 2015 season.
But his form hasn’t dipped across the ditch and the veteran will play his first Blues game in Melbourne in State of Origin II on Wednesday.
“I have played a Test match at the SCG, I have played at Wembley too, they are two fantastic arenas in the world so to add the MCG to that is something really special,” Hoffman told AAP.
“I never thought I would get the opportunity, you think ‘they don’t play rugby league there it is a cricket ground an AFL ground’.
“It is my first Origin in Melbourne, it took me to go to the Warriors to get that.
“It is so exciting. My wife and my son are here for the game, they have never been to an Origin before so that is fantastic.”
Much pre-game talk has been centred on how Queensland will enjoy the lion’s share of crowd support at the iconic ground, due to the presence of Storm stars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Will Chambers in their ranks.
However Hoffman believes the Maroons won’t have everything their own way.
“Supporters in Melbourne are going to follow what they are familiar with, Billy, Cam and Will,” he said.
“But I’m sure there will be a lot of support for us, there will be plenty of people from Sydney and NSW who always wanted to go to the MCG but never had a good excuse to go but now have.”